With the I/O and WWDC conferences recently behind us, Google and Apple have revealed their advances in the realm of smart devices. More specifically, they’re vying for your loyalty in a war over connected cars and homes.
Photo courtesy of Android Auto
In the battle for your car, Google announced Android Auto at I/O last week. Auto allows drivers to plug their smartphones into cars to access navigation, communication and music, all accessible via the contextually aware Google voice search. Drivers don’t have to fumble around with their phones to respond to texts while on the road, as the functionalities are clearly listed on the car’s overview screen. The bonus: as everything runs off Android, whenever a driver updates their operating system, Auto improves. Google has enlisted over 40 new partners into its Open Automotive Alliance, as well as 25 car brands.
Similarly, Apple is launching CarPlay. Just as drivers can wield Android Auto with Google voice search, Apple enthusiasts can hack into iOS hands-free with Siri. Users can ask Siri for directions through traffic, to play a roadtrip playlist or write a text without touching their phones. CarPlay is also hitched to automobiles via smartphone and has a number of car brands enrolled.
Both titans will begin running applications in cars by the end of this year. Drivers who don’t pledge allegiance to just one operating system are still in luck, as certain automotive brands, like Honda and Volvo, will run both.
“As long as Apple and Google are
head-to-head in this competition, expect big changes.”
Google and Apple are also making a pass for your home, starting with your TV. Though Google’s forays into television failed years ago with both Google TV and Nexus Q, Android TV hopes to get the same level of attention as smartphones and tablets this time around. A few manufacturers, including Sony and Sharp, will assemble the TVs with a focus on gaming and content. As Chromecast has been a smashing success for Google, the odds are looking up that Android TV will stick around. And just as with Android Auto, users will be able to control their TV with their phones and voice search.
On the other side of the spectrum, Apple TV has dominated the smart TV scene for the last several years without much innovation, so it’s exciting that new competition will push it to spruce up its sets. For now, the 20 million users who have purchased units aren’t complaining, but an update in collaboration with Comcast is rumored to arrive by the end of the year. As long as Apple and Google are head-to-head in this competition, expect big changes.
The conflict concludes with appliances. Back in January, Google acquired Nest, best known for its smart thermostat, for $3.2 billion. Now, it has opened its developer program so other apps can integrate into Nest’s in-home technology. Partners currently include Mercedes-Benz, which can activate Nest products when drivers commute home from work, LIFX and Jawbone. Google’s goal here is to create a personalized experience that connects the different elements of your life.
In iOS 8, iPhones will be able to control smart devices with HomeKit. The possibilities include August’s smart locks, Philips’ connected light bulbs and a slew of other products that range from security cameras to garage door openers. HomeKit is activated by a simple voice command to Siri, such as “get ready for bed,” and the house tidies itself up automatically. The best part of HomeKit is that it’s all operated through Siri rather than a system of separate apps (i.e. one for the light bulbs and one for the garage), making it easy to control multiple appliances at once.
Brian Wong talked recently about a connected future in a video for Kiip. He explained that with the entrance of a smart fridge, brands will be able to discern when users hit milestone moments. For instance, when a family meets their energy consumption goals on their Nest thermostat, they could be rewarded with movie tickets from Fandango, or when a driver crosses 3,000 miles on a road trip, Jiffy Lube could offer a discount on an oil change. By advertising in a more connected future, brands have more opportunities to engage users during moments that matter.
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